Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Parenting: You're Doing It Wrong

On a daily basis, I feel like I fail at parenting.  Some days are big-time fails, some days sporadic little WTF moments occur.  But every day, without fail, I fail.  I always tell myself that the fact that I worry so much about royally screwing up my kid means that I'm probably doing an okay job.

I keep him from danger, I make sure he's fed and properly clothed.  I make sure he gets daily exercise, daily naps, and is in bed at a decent time.  Maybe I allow him to watch a little too much TV, but most of the time it is just background noise as he plays.

My job is to be a stay-at-home-mom.  My number one priority should be playing with monster trucks and Play-Doh, learning numbers and letters, painting doodles and drawing his favorite Disney character-of-the-moment.

But, all too often, I hold up one finger and tell him, "just a moment", or "Mommy's busy right now."  I suppose I didn't realize how often he was hearing these sentences from me until he began saying them back to me.  But it never really sank in.

Then, a few days ago I read a blog post entitled, Dear Mom On The iPhone by 4 Little Fergusons.  Nearly every word of the essay stabbed at my heart.  Here are a few parts that I found particularly poignant (I encourage you to read the entire post).

Dear Mom On the iPhone,
I see you over there on the bench, messing on your iPhone. It feels good to relax a little while your kids have fun in the sunshine, doesn’t it? You are doing a great job with your kids, you work hard, you teach them manners, have them do their chores.
But Momma, let me tell you what you don’t see right now…..
...Your little boy keeps shouting, “Mom, MOM watch this!” I see you acknowledge him, barely glancing his way.
He sees that too. His shoulders slump, but only for a moment, as he finds the next cool thing to do. ...
...Put your eyes back on your prize…Your kids.
Show them that they are the priority. Wherever you are, be ALL there. I am not saying it’s not ok to check in on your phone, but it’s a time-sucker: User Beware!
Play time at the park will be over before you know it.
The childhood of your children will be gone before you know it.
They won’t always want to come to the park with you, Mommy. They won’t always... call out, “WATCH ME!”
There will come a point when they stop trying, stop calling your name, stop bothering to interrupt your phone time.
Because they know…
You’ve shown them, all these moments, that the phone is more important than they are. They see you looking at it at while waiting to pick up brother from school, during playtime, at the dinner table, at bedtime…..
I know that’s not true, Mommy.
I know your heart says differently.
...But your kids can’t hear your words, Mommy. Your actions are screaming way too loudly.
Does this woman know me?  Does she see me checking Facebook every few moments?  Does she know that before I rise out of bed in the morning -- even before going to the bathroom -- I have made sure to update myself on all of the idle gossip happening in cyber space?  Does she know that I rarely go to the loo without simultaneously using my tablet?  Does she know that I brush conversation with my husband aside so that I can try to beat my last highest score in some stupid game?  Has she seen me tell my son I'm busy so that I can track my calories or post my WOD results?  She must have seen me at the park reading a politically charged email from my dad.  Maybe she noticed me ignoring him at our lunch outing last Saturday and how important it seemed for me to make sure that my husband and I were "checked in" on Facebook.

I. am. disgusted. with. myself.
In a few years, what am I going to think of when I look back on these years?  Am I going to think fondly of all of the awesome ideas I found on Pinterest (ideas I know I will never get around to trying), of all of the funny conversation threads with my CrossFit friends, of all of the rounds of Words with Friends played?
Or will I look back and wonder where they time went, wonder how he could have possibly grown up so fast and grown so tall?  Maybe I will wonder why he would rather play video games than talk to his parents.  And then I will have to say to myself, "I taught him that."

This was my son when he was just 18 months old.
At the time I thought it was hilarious that he wanted to always
carry this phone with him.

Today begins the Lenten season.  A season of sacrifice.  This year (in addition to my usual surrendering of processed sugar), I am giving up Facebook and all electronic games.  I have deleted most of the temptation from my iPhone, Kindle Fire, and computer.
To be honest, I was increasingly nervous as today approached.  I have been trying to find any reason why I should at least keep just Facebook -- after all, I would hate to miss some one's birthday!  I even tried promising myself that I would only use these time-suckers during nap or after bed time.  That wasn't the answer.  The nervousness surrounding the sacrifice proved that it was necessary.  40 days -- cold turkey.
I don't know what will happen when Easter comes -- my hope is that I will have learned to cherish the moments I have with my son (and husband) and that I lose the need to be constantly linked in -- but I do know, in the meantime, that I don't want to miss any of the moments that pass all too quickly.  Because it's not for very long that you get to spend every day with a real-life super hero.
Be present.  Put your phone down.  Thank you for keeping me In Good Company.
{Obviously, I am continuing to write blogs, but I can only accomplish that while he is sleeping.
I've also decided that it isn't cheating to hit the "share" button from my blog since I am not getting on Facebook to do it.}


  1. I love this! I too am guilty of being "the mom on the iPhone". So don't feel bad! My goal has been to be present when I am with my loved ones and it's a struggle but worth it! Great blog!

  2. Love this! What a great reminder! I am so guilty of this at times.


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